A US citizen who is being sentenced over the death of British teenager Harry Dunn outside a military base told police “it’s all my fault” after the fatal road crash.
Anne Sacoolas, 45, was charged with the 19-year-old’s death after her Volvo, which she was driving on the wrong side of the road, hit the motorbike he was riding near RAF Croughton, Northamptonshire in August 2019.
Prosecuting lawyer Duncan Atkinson KC said that Sacoolas told a first responder at the scene: “It’s all my fault. I was on the wrong side of the road. I have only been here a couple of weeks.”
Harry Dunn told the witness: “Don’t let me die”. His mother Charlotte Charles told the Old Bailey on Thursday that her son’s death “haunts me every minute of every day”.
When the police arrived at the scene, Sacoolas was in shock with her head in her hands and confirmed the crash had been her fault, the court heard.
There was significant damage to both the car and motorbike during the collision. The Volvo’s airbags were activated and the rear window was smashed, while the motorbike was on fire.
Sacoolas had been driving her children home from a barbeque and she told police that “it was when I got my kids to the side of the road that I had realised what had happened”.
She was employed by an intelligence agency in the US at the time of the crash and the US embassy told the UK Foreign Office that she was covered by diplomatic immunity meaning she would not face prosecution over his death.
They told the FCDO that Sacoolas would be leaving the UK on 13 September 2019, something then-foreign secretary Dominic Raab objected to in “strong and clear terms”.
However, in December 2019 the Crown Prosecution Service authorised Northamptonshire Police to charge Sacoolas with Mr Dunn’s death by dangerous driving.
After a three-year legal battle between the Dunn family, the Foreign Office and the US government, in October of this year, Sacoolas pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey in London to causing the teenager’s death by careless driving.
Her diplomatic immunity ceased on her return to the US, but her extradition to the UK was denied, the court heard on Thursday.
Harry Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles broke down in court as she spoke of how her son was “so senselessly and cruelly taken from us.”
“My beautiful son Harry, twin brother of Niall, is gone and is never coming back.”
She continued: “I didn’t make it to the hospital in time before he passed and the thought of that haunts me to my core. My job is to comfort my children and I wasn’t there for Harry to comfort him in what must have been an awful and painful, slow death.”
Ms Charles added: “His passing haunts me every minute of every day and I’m not sure how I’m ever going to get over it.
“I made a promise to Harry in the hospital that we would get him justice and a mother never breaks a promise to her son.”
Sacoolas did not attend court in person on Thursday, on the advice of the US government, despite repeated calls by judges hearing the case that she should be there.
Instead, she appeared via video link split screen with her US-based lawyer, Amy Jeffress.